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The Kayaker and the Angler
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Millennial kayaker Tyler Bradt, a professional athlete known for running massive waterfalls and paddling through rushing Class 5 rapids, has an opportunity to share his love of the river with baby boomer Leland Miyawaki, a self-described “old-fashioned” fly-fisherman. Both men utilize connectedness to the water, and their intimate yet playful connection to nature showcases both as being equally invested in protecting public waterways and conserving wildlife. Their stories are seen on the White Salmon River in Washington.
[WIND CHIMES RINGING] LELAND MIYAWAKI: I've been fly fishing for almost 50 years. I prefer to fish in kind of an old fashioned way-- what the hell, I am an old fashion guy. I have no other life, it's all I do now. You know when you start off when you're young, you want to catch every fish in the pool. Now, it kind of doesn't matter. The process is what's neat. I enjoy the process.
TYLER BRADT: Rapids scared me for the longest time. It amazes me that I was so in love with kayaking because I have these very distinct memories of crying at the top of rapids, not wanting to do that.
My Dad would just take off down the river. And I would just sort of deal with my own emotions and just get to the point where I was ready to follow down through the rapid and keep on going down the river.
Being a kayaker, the fly fisherman is always the one that's on the banks yelling at me when I'm going down--
LELAND MIYAWAKI: Get the hell out of the way!
TYLER BRADT: --the river. Get out of the way! Get out of the water!
LELAND MIYAWAKI: You're on my fly!
TYLER BRADT: Yeah, exactly. And I was, like, hey, man. Take it easy, I'm just going down the river.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: When I think of a kayaker, they're just loud, young, wild hair, crazy, always laughing.
TYLER BRADT: So I fit the stereotype?
LELAND MIYAWAKI: When I was growing up in Orange County, it was nothing but orange trees and strawberry farms everywhere. No one ever worried about you. It was a pretty free life. My dad was a bait fisher. He didn't teach me [BLEEP] about fly fishing. My dad fished in places like Irvine Lake and Anaheim Lake in the middle of the cities. But I would try to get away whenever I could and fish other places.
TYLER BRADT: I grew up in Western Montana. And I just loved always being outside. And so it was this sort of amazing introduction into just being in wild places. And I fell in love with it.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: That was a trick. Nice cast.
TYLER BRADT: Being out here with Leland, it's sort of reconnected me with a slower pace of life. The deeper I connect with that feeling, the more I feel alive. What surprised me about learning to fish was just the way that you read water. Seeing you really reading water with a really keen eye-- much like I'm used to but just in a different way--
LELAND MIYAWAKI: For sure. I mean, if I--
TYLER BRADT: --it's amazing.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: --couldn't read the water, I wouldn't catch fish.
TYLER BRADT: Yeah.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: I wouldn't have a shot at catching fish.
TYLER BRADT: Right.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: I'll put it that way.
TYLER BRADT: So you're saying I should be a better fisherman having spent so much time around reading water.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: You should. All you got to do is learn how to cast.
TYLER BRADT: When you're running white water, your thoughts disappear. It's this very light happy feeling. You have to be incredibly present, and you have to find the rhythm of the white water. You're not creating the moment. The river is creating the moment.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: In all the years that I have fished, I would have never, ever in my life even thought of coming down a river in a kayak. I was pretty apprehensive in fact, pretty scared. But Tyler really puts you at ease. It was a life-changing experience.
TYLER BRADT: Yeah, go ahead and hop in. And I reach around, get in on the side of the boat. Exactly, so that's the position you go in to if we flip. And I'll be able to roll us out.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: I'm all right, I've got Tyler here. What could go wrong?
TYLER BRADT: Yeah, what could possibly go wrong? Exactly.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: Tyler is part of the river as much as I am. I thought that was just the most awesome thing, to just see the river from another person's point of view that loves it just as much as I do.
TYLER BRADT: Although we practice very different disciplines of recreation, we're unified in our advocacy of public lands. Free-flowing rivers are as important to kayaking as they are for fishing. Making sure that we maintain free-flowing rivers is integral to the health of the entire planet.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: After everything we do to the river, including damming it-- and then you take the dam out-- it's not long at all before it's basically reborn again.
TYLER BRADT: Just the complexity of these ecosystems, it takes really protecting public lands surrounding these rivers.
LELAND MIYAWAKI: When you say public lands, you encompass the waters contained therein. Rivers really, really are alive. A natural free-flowing river is something to really behold.
[MUSIC - LONNIE BROOKS, "MR. HOT SHOT"]
Hey Mr. Hot Shot. I'm Mr. Real Deal. I want you to know, before they get your will.
Let her 'lone. Let her be. Let her 'lone. Let her be. Don't let her be, you gonna have to check with me.
Never owned a shotgun. I never carry a knife. I want you to know, she's gonna be my wife.
Let her 'lone. Let her be. Let her 'lone.